*Hypericum perforatum, commonly known as St. John's Wort, has been used since antiquity as medication for somatic and psychic distress. Blooming at the time of summer solstice, in early Germanic cultures it became known as the bringer of light. Through to the Middle Ages, St John's Wort was used to ward off evil spirits as well as disease, and it is still known as a potent herbal remedy for depression and anxiety. The Greek origins of the name for the Hypericum family are uncertain but, according to a common interpretation, it is derived from ‘hyper eikon’ and alludes to the plant’s apotropaic properties.
Obsidian Coast seeks to initiate Hypericum: A Code of Practice, a curatorial and artistic development project, to generate a collectively produced and ever-evolving code of practice for feminist, antiracist, anticolonial and environmentally sustainable arts organising.

We are looking for UK based arts workers (e.g. artists, curators and/or educators) to form a small working group for the first year of the project till spring 2021. The role of the working group would be to conduct research and host public workshops to bring together existing wisdom that already informs practice in specific contexts and communities within the art world and beyond, and to develop new ideas and knowledge in response to our current circumstances.
We feel that cultural organisations hold the potential to participate in reimagining the socio-political conditions under which we live, but often any tangibly counterhegemonic practice is curtailed by the reliance of organisations on predominant value systems of hetero/cissexist patriarchy, white supremacy, ableism, capitalist extraction, competition and accelerated production with maximum efficiency. Hypericum is an attempt to envision what it would mean to place care, generosity and solidarity in the crux of all arts organising, and to share these imaginings as an evolving open source code for practice.

Depending on the outcomes of collective thinking, the foundation of this open source code may entail – but will not be limited to – essays, practical guidelines, pledges and glossaries. These may address, only to name a few possible areas of enquiry, safer space guidelines for public and behind-the-scenes contexts, access, formation and maintenance of ethical working relationships, counter strategies for dealing with master suppression techniques, or proposals for support structures to enforce collectivity within an increasingly precarious professional field. The contents may be analytical, practical or speculative, whatever is deemed most helpful and generative. The only predetermined condition of the code of practice would be that it always stems from a specific context and never perceives itself to be an all-encompassing, complete or static entity.
Hypericum will be led by a maximum of 5 working group members, one of whom is Obsidian Coast co-director Nella Aarne. The working group members can participate as individuals or representatives of organisations. Obsidian Coast’s provisional suggestion is that the activities would alternate between closed working group meetings and public workshops that will be collectively devised. The level of the working group members’ commitment will be discussed and agreed together. There is a small budget for the first stage of the project over the next year and the use of the funds will be collectively outlined – this could include, for example, fees for working group members.

The project is intended as a slow and gentle unfolding, and does not seek to add to any existing pressures that the working group members may already be experiencing in other areas of their lives, professionally or otherwise.
An open source project cannot begin without an open invitation. If you would like to join the Hypericum: A Code of Practice working group, please send us a short letter (max. 500 words) or a video (max. 4 minutes) telling about your work, interests and how you would like to contribute to the project to nella@obsidiancoast.art by midnight on Sunday 5 July 2020.

We hope that the working group can bring together different perspectives, knowledges and experiences to ensure that Hypericum will have a genuine chance to generate a worthwhile process and multi-faceted conversations. We are especially interested in hearing about your personal or professional interests and previous activities that you feel relate to any possible lines of enquiry that Hypericum could, or perhaps should, follow. The selection will be made by Obsidian Coast and Gabrielle de la Puente, who is joining from The White Pube as an external advisor.

Although the size of the core working group will be limited to a maximum of 5 members, everyone expressing their interest in the project now will have the opportunity to contribute to the project with credit via public workshops or by other means.

If you would like to know more about Hypericum: A Code of Practice, or have any access requirements that you would like to discuss, please email nella[a]obsidiancoast.art.
Open call announced:
22 May 2020

Deadline for letters of interest:
Midnight 5 July 2020

Informal conversations with shortlisted participants:
Week commencing 6 July 2020

Working Group announced:
Week commencing 13 July 2020

The beginning of the project:
July 2020